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Dreams Punta Cana / La Barcaza review - 4/28/10 (super long!!)


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#1 ebredhawk

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    Posted 05 May 2010 - 02:24 PM

    See my reviews below for Dreams as both a resort and for weddings, our Pastor, La Barcaza for our reception and EyeSpy Photography and Clam Lake Films. I will post a more detailed review of our photographer and videographer later as well. They were too amazing to not get one!

    Any questions, send me a PM or ask me here!

    Links to my personal albums on Snapfish: (you may need to create a quick Snapfish account, but it’s free and worth it)
    Snapfish: Share:Registration
    Snapfish: Share:Registration

    Dreams (as a resort)
    Our group had 24 people including 2 kids. I honestly can’t imagine that we could have found a better resort for us. We were spread out over a number of buildings, but it was never a big deal. Everyone would meet up for breakfast at World Caf©, then go to “our area” of the pool and everyone could make it back to the rooms to get ready for dinner. Room location didn’t matter at all.

    The trip from the airport to the hotel is not a deal breaker at all. It’s not all that fun, but do not let that be your deciding factor. It’s either 25 min or 50 min, it doesn’t make that much of a difference and is such a small part of the trip!

    None of our guests had any problems with their rooms. Our room (honeymoon suite in building 6) did have some tiny ants on the bathroom sink, but it didn’t bother us at all. Here’s a warning: if your sliding door isn’t closed ALL THE WAY, your AC won’t work. We had one couple have this happen and their room was warm the rest of the trip. Just expect everything to be semi-damp for most of the trip. You are in the Caribbean!

    The pool was simply amazing. Perfect for our group since there were big groups of chairs with umbrellas that we were able to block off every morning, although there wasn’t a rush. You can get extra towels from the Entertainment shack by the tiki bar. Also, bartenders walk around constantly asking if you want anything to drink. Give them small tips consistently and they’ll keep coming back!

    Most of our meals were tasty… the World Caf© buffet was definitely our favorite. We also went to El Patio, Bordeaux and the Seaside Grill. We never got to go to Himitsu, which made me sad, but we were always well fed. For lunch we either went to the grill on the beach and brought it back to the pool, or we went to World Caf©.

    DH and I got massages the day before we left because it was a spa special that day. If you think you or your guests will want this, find the spa people on the first day and see what the specials are each day. Another of our guests got the Dreams Massage, which was 80 minutes, and you pick two different styles. Also, if you get to the spa early (about a ½ hour or so) before your massage you get to try out the hot tub, all of the baths, the sauna, etc. It is a really neat experience! Plus, the massage rooms are the only ones on the resort that have dehumidifiers!!

    Steer clear of the guys walking around the resort trying to get you to go on excursions. The tour operators outside of World Caf© are your best bet. The other ones charge way too much and are pretty shady!

    The beach is nice, although there is a lot of seaweed when you go to the right. If you walk out on the beach and look to your left, down a little bit out on a point there is an area of sand that stays shallow and goes out into the water. That was our favorite place to be on the beach since there is also some dead coral around there and you can see fish. Everyone agreed that the pool was better than the beach though. Easier to relax and find shade!

    The night life isn’t that great, unless you make your own fun. We had a blast just hanging out by the veranda bar (by the gazebo and where they show movies every night). For heaven’s sake: BRING BUG SPRAY! Regular stuff won’t cut it… it has to have Deet in it. Not everyone got bit, but myself, my brother and my MOH’s boyfriend were completely covered and we used Off.

    The staff and everyone was exceptional. We got to have our favorite bartenders and waiters and we felt very well taken care of. You’ll get very used to saying “hola” to everyone you see! They love it when you try out Spanish too.. even if it’s a little rusty!

    Our one complaint about the resort: Tropical Pictures, the resorts photographers. My step-daughter got her picture taken with several of the animals. When we went to pick out some of the pictures, they wanted us to pay $60 for 8 just on a cd.. not even prints! They were rude when we tried to negotiate and we ended up trying 3 different times before we ended up just getting 1 picture printed (for $15! Yikes!). That is the absolute only complaint we had about the whole trip.. which means we had a great time!!

    #2 ebredhawk

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      Posted 05 May 2010 - 02:26 PM

      Excursion: Bavaro Runners Ziplining Tour
      My disclaimer is that the bus ride alone is not for the faint of heart. It takes about 45 minutes and half of it is on the “Dominican Highway” which is basically a dirt road. You feel like you’re on a mechanical bull! The bus is open though, so it’s not horrible.

      Once we got there, it was a little overwhelming to see how high up we would be. The guys there are great though and we were 100% fully prepared. Honestly, the worst part was waiting. Once I would get on the zipline I could look around and see how truly beautiful the mountains, trees and rivers were! The trip took exactly 4 hours and was definitely worth it. I can’t say I would go again, but that’s probably because I’m a big wuss!

      Dreams (for weddings) and our WC Deyanira
      This is the part of the whole thing I’m most passionate about. I was definitely a planner ahead of time.. we had every little thing figured out, even though they tell you that you’ll meet with your WC once you arrive to figure out the details.

      In hindsight, I could have just planned some decorations and done everything else once we got there. There is something about the air or the environmnent that just makes you want to have a good time and not care about all the little details anymore! For that to happen to me, you know it’s gotta be something powerful!

      After being set on a beach wedding, we switched to the gazebo because of the beach location (we decided we wanted to be more private) and everything was just beautiful. Deyanira did a fantastic job. DO NOT let any delays in communication worry you.. she will get back to you and know all of the details when you get down there!

      We did not do a rehearsal. The boys had to be to the gazebo 15 minutes before and Deyanira picked up the girls in our room about 5 minutes before the start. We had our Best Man play the processional on the guitar and you could hear it beautifully. Deyanira handled the rest of the ceremony music and it was perfect. The ceremony (performed by Pastor Rick York) was only about 10-15 min. long and it was just right! We had champagne afterwards and had the perfect amount of time for pictures before the bus for La Barcaza picked us up. (Ceremony was at 4 pm)

      Pastor Rick York
      If you’re having a symbolic ceremony, don’t hesitate: book him NOW! He was so nice and really personalized the ceremony and let us have a say in it all. Dreams doesn’t even charge him the day pass fee anymore because he comes so much.

      La Barcaza
      There are 3 decisions during wedding planning that I think were the best we made, and choosing to have our reception on La Barcaza was one of them. We met with Flori the day before the wedding, paid our remaining balance and gave her all of our decorations.

      The bus picked us up at the resort and drove us to the boat (which is docked right by the Jellyfish restaurant). The crew met us on the beach and ferried us to the boat on smaller motor boats.

      Once we got on board we hooked up our iPod and had some music while dinner was cooking. They set everything up perfectly for the reception and the tables and chairs are really nice and beachy. Once we were anchored in the natural swimming pools, we sat down to eat dinner. The meal was probably the best we had the whole trip. We got the Wedding Grill and it was chicken, beef and veggie kebabs and a homemade salsa that was to DIE FOR!

      After dinner we cut our cake (also yummy) and then the dancing began. The crew didn’t just hang out… they participated! Jorge was a big man who danced with all of the grandparents and moms the whole night and they loved them! The open bar with just beer, fruit juices, soda and rum was perfect… we didn’t need anything more. There is plenty of room for dancing or for people to just hang out. Just be careful because the humidity makes the deck a little slippery! Wasn’t a big deal at all though! Also, the 3 hour cruise was plenty.

      Photographer & Videographer: EyeSpy Photography and Clam Lake Films
      Besides Dreams and La Barcaza, bringing Stephany Wieland (EyeSpy) and Nick Kesler (Clam Lake) with us rounds out the 3 best decisions we made. They became part of the family when we were down there and listened to everything we said and wanted! Their vision is unparalleled and they were able to catch the beauty in everything in a way I could never imagine! They made us feel completely comfortable the entire time and I can only hope the friendships that we made with them will continue beyond the trip! See below for their links.. Nick also filmed the promo video that is at the top of the EyeSpy blog.
      eyespy photography
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      #3 cristinimartini

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        Posted 05 May 2010 - 03:42 PM

        Congratulations on what sounds like an amazing time and a beautiful wedding!!!!!! Thank you for the very thorough and very honest review!!! We leave in two weeks exactly and I'm happy to hear that what I'm planning (which is bringing next to nothing) is good enough!!

        How did your step-daughter like the kid zone? I'm sure she had the time of her life!!!!

        My only concern now is what to pick for my bouquet! LOL...I wish I had found a trusty Real Touch Florist who could make one in time for my May wedding, but all the ones I liked were booked already...I'm happy to say that this is my major stressing point right now hahaha...

        Welcome home and time to catch up on the BDW happenings!!!! Can't wait to see your wedding pics!!!!!!!

        #4 PynkLemonade

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          Posted 05 May 2010 - 03:58 PM

          Erin, this is such a great review. I too, wonder how the children's area is since my daughter will be 10 and have two nieces coming as well. I have some other questions, but I'm going to send you an email for those! Thanks for writing this :)

          #5 lrdavis23

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            Posted 05 May 2010 - 04:13 PM

            Erin what a great review we have been waiting for this one lol..... glad you had a wonderful time and congrats again.
            Married June 18, 2010 @ Dreams Punta Cana

            #6 ebredhawk

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              Posted 05 May 2010 - 04:22 PM

              misty - just responded to your email!!

              as far as the kids group though, the 2 kids that were with us never actually went to the explorers club. we saw them ALL over the resort though and the kids seemed to be having a great time. my stepdaughter had to do homework twice a day, every day, so it would have been hard to have her go there. i never once read a bad review of it though. we had fully intended to have them go there, but it worked out perfectly with them just hanging out at the pool with us!

              #7 Eliana

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                Posted 05 May 2010 - 09:25 PM

                Erin what a great review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! when I saw your pics I got soo excited to finally be there!!! It seems that you had an amazing time and CONGRATS ON YOUR WEDDING!!!!

                #8 clemen

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                  Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:52 AM

                  We had 60 guests total, a beautiful experience in Dominican Republic, my wedding was great, the ceremony was very nice ... it was what I expected ...The best of our week was definitely the tour on La Barcaza Boat

                  The boat is just beautiful. The scenery is so beatiful! The boat was beautiful and the food was great. We all had a great time, our guests couldn't stop talking about it. Flori the wedding coordinator is so helpful and sweet , she offer us a spectacular decoration...they have a link: Wedding Punta Cana. The best Wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

                  The boat was great, the food delicious, and the set up couldn't have been better one of the best moments on our whole trip to the Dominican!! The ocean is so clear with rows of palm trees and beach w/o hotels, in the background.

                  I would definitely recommend this boat La Barcaza. The food was the best of the week, We choose the mix grill Menu and was excellent , the kitchen on board is open and we could see the chef cooking... All the guests got into the water at the natural swimming pool. very beautiful place to stop. We got back on the boat for dinner.

                  Everyone was raving about it. It was the best meal the entire week. We watched the sunset and then got back in the water for a short while.

                  We had the best time, my guests raved about the boat, food & staff. The staff is just so wonderful. It was an amazing time! I would highly recommend using the LA BARCAZA for your wedding reception, rehearsal dinner or give thanks all your guests ! It was such a great experience! Our guests had the time of their lives! They said this was the best wedding reception they had ever been to!

                  #9 luckyu17

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                    Posted 15 July 2010 - 11:35 AM

                    Great review and very helpful...thank you!!!

                    #10 FormosaDeb

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                      Posted 16 January 2011 - 06:56 PM

                      Thank you for posting your review!

                       

                      I am very intrigued with the La Barcaza wedding reception option. I've read many reviews and cannot find a bad one! Everyone seems to really enjoy it. My fiance and I are looking more into it now. I just have a question: after your ceremony, while you are taking pictures, did you have a cocktail reception for your guests before you take off for the boat?

                       

                      Thank you,

                      Debbie






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